Definition: Reduce inequality within and among countries
- By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
- By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
- Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
- Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality
List of Policy Changes and Cuts:
- Retracted funding for the proposed French Language University
- Eliminated the office of the French Language Services Commissioner
- Reduced budget for the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs
- Reduced funding to the Indigenous Culture Fund
- Eliminated the Office of Ontario’s Child and Youth Advocate
- Eliminated Ontario’s Transition Child Benefit
The specific policy and funding changes that have been listed under this Sustainable Development Goal relate to how vulnerable and underrepresented populations will be directly affected.
According to 2016 census data, there are over 600,000 Franco Ontarians, making up over 4 per cent of the population of Ontario.[i] Before the role was eliminated, the French Language Services Commissioner ensured that the rights of francophone citizens were respected, and the government and its agencies observed their obligations under the French Language Services Act. The office as a safeguard for the health and well-being Franco Ontarians is crucial. A recent report noted that 23 per cent of francophones employed by the federal public service do not feel free to speak the official language of their choice in their work unit and that 32 per cent do not feel free to write emails in the official language of their choice.[ii] As a linguistic minority, the inability to address concerns of this population group limits career opportunities and increases social isolation. The elimination of the role was further amplified by the cancellation of funding for a proposed French Language University.
There were also changes that impact Indigenous communities. The base funding of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs was reduced by 15 per cent. In addition to this, a 37 per cent reduction in transfer payments has affected the Indigenous economic development fund, the participation fund, the policy engagement fund, the community negotiations fund, the Algonquin negotiations fund and the Six Nations fund. The Indigenous culture fund has also been eliminated. The fund was integral to re-establishing traditional types of teachings that may have been lost due to residential schools.
Many children experience poverty, domestic abuse, and depend on the welfare system to support their growth, development, and survival. The Ontario Child Advocate’s office had served as an independent watchdog since 2008 to investigate ill treatment of children in the child welfare system and to review government policy and practice around services to children. This post has been removed this year. While the duties of the Advocate will be taken over by the Ombudsman, the resources to ensure that office’s oversight are not to be replaced. The office’s mandate included providing a voice for First Nations children and people with special needs.
In addition to decreased supports for vulnerable children, children of refugee families will experience hardship as it was announced that the Transition Child Benefit would be eliminated by November 2019. This is a program that helps refugee families provide the basic necessities for their children because they are not eligible to be covered under the Ontario Child Benefit program. The Transition Child Benefit, a value of over $200 per child per month, was provided for 16,000 children in Ontario last year.
Being able to invest more attention, funding and resources to our populations that have not been well represented and supported in the province would be a pathway towards reducing inequities for marginalized groups. Targeted investment can improve the likelihood that people will thrive. Decreasing spending tends to lead to greater impacts for equity-seeking groups such as people with lower incomes, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ groups, Indigenous groups, racialized groups and newcomer groups.
[i] Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. (2019). Infographic: The French Presence in Ontario. Retrieved June 26, 2019, from https://www.clo-ocol.gc.ca/en/statistics/infographics/french-presence-ontario.
[ii] Borbey, P., Mendelsohn, M. (2017). The next level: Normalizing a culture of inclusive linguistic duality in the Federal Public Service workplace. Government of Canada. Retrieved July 12, 2019, from https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/corporate/clerk/publications/next-level/next-level.html.